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CHINA, EUROPE AND THE GREAT DIVERGENCE: A STUDY IN HISTORICAL

NATIONAL ACCOUNTING, 980-1850


Stephen Broadberry, London School of Economics and CAGE, S.N.Broadberry@lse.ac.uk
Hanhui Guan, Peking University, guanhh@pku.edu.cn
David Daokui Li, Tsinghua University, lidk@sem.tsinghua.edu.cn

19 August 2014
File: China7e.doc

Abstract: GDP is estimated for China between the late tenth and mid-nineteenth centuries,
and combined with population estimates. Chinese GDP per capita was highest during the
Northern Song dynasty and declined during the Ming and Qing dynasties. China led the
world in living standards during the Northern Song dynasty, but had fallen behind Italy by
1300. At this stage, it is possible that the Yangzi delta was still on a par with the richest parts
of Europe, but by 1700 the gap was too large to be bridged by regional variation within China
and the Great Divergence had already begun.
JEL classification: E100, N350, O100
Keywords: GDP Per Capita; Economic Growth; Great Divergence; China; Europe

Acknowledgements: This paper forms part of the project Reconstructing the National
Income of Britain and Holland, c.1270/1500 to 1850, funded by the Leverhulme Trust,
Reference Number F/00215AR. It is also part of the Collaborative Project HI-POD supported
by the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme for Research, Contract Number
SSH7-CT-2008-225342. David Daokui Li and Hanhui Guan also acknowledge financial
support from Humanity and Social Science Promotion Plan of Tsinghua University
(2009WKWT007) and National Natural Science Foundation (70973003)

1. INTRODUCTION
As a result of recent advances in historical national accounting, estimates of GDP per capita
are now available for a number of European economies back to the medieval period,
including Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain (Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton
and van Leeuwen, 2014; van Zanden and van Leeuwen, 2012; Malanima, 2011; lvarezNogal and Prados de la Escosura, 2013). A number of recent studies have also extended this
approach to Asian economies, including India and Japan (Broadberry, Custodis and Gupta,
2014; Bassino, Broadberry, Fukao, Gupta and Takashima, 2014). So far, however, the
economy which has been at the centre of the Great Divergence debate, China, has been
conspicuously absent from this approach.

This paper uses historical national accounting methods to estimate GDP for China
during the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties, and combines the resulting series with
population estimates to produce GDP per capita. An earlier study by Guan and Li (2012)
demonstrated that sufficient information is available for a detailed reconstruction of the
historical national accounts of China, using a sectoral approach similar to that adopted by
Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011; 2014) for Britain. This
means that it is no longer necessary to rely on the quantitative conjectures of Maddison
(1998) to track the long term performance of the Chinese economy. These new, more firmly
grounded estimates of Chinese GDP per capita can be used to compare economic
performance during the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties. Chinas GDP per capita
reached its peak level during the Northern Song dynasty, before entering a long decline
which lasted through the Ming and Qing dynasties, and indeed was only decisively reversed
in the second half of the twentieth century (Maddison, 1998).

The results also shed new light on the timing of the Great Divergence. Northern Song
China was richer than Domesday Britain in 1090, but by 1400 Britain was already ahead, and
China was certainly poorer than Italy by 1300. By the seventeenth century, China was already
substantially behind the leading European economies in the North Sea Area, despite still
being the richest Asian economy. Even allowing for regional variation within China, it is
clear that the Great Divergence between China and Western Europe was already well under
way by 1700, before the start of the Industrial Revolution.

The paper proceeds as follows. Section 2 provides a general overview of data sources,
while sections 3 to 6 discuss the derivation of the population and output estimates in the
agricultural, industrial and service sectors. Section 7 aggregates the sectoral estimates to
produce nominal and real GDP and combines the real GDP estimates with population to
derive real GDP per capita. A preliminary assessment of Chinese economic performance is
made in this section by comparing the three dynasties. Section 8 then places this performance
in an international perspective by comparing GDP per capita in China with other economies
to shed light on the origins of the Great Divergence. Section 9 concludes, while an appendix
provides more detailed information on data sources and methods.

2. DATA SOURCES
This study draws on a large Chinese historical literature that is based in turn on a solid
foundation of quantitative data collected by the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties.
China has a long tradition of recording history for the purpose of providing experience and
lessons in national governance for future dynasties. To achieve this, governments usually
established a special institution with responsibility for compiling and recording laws and
policy, and these institutions collected important economic data. In addition to this official

historical literature, there are two additional types of material that have been drawn on in the
estimates provided below, a private historical literature and regional gazetteers.

The official historical literature includes Shihuo Zhi for each dynasty, Shilu and
huidian for the Ming and Qing dynasties, and Huiyao for the Northern Song dynasty. In a
country with a highly centralised authority, local governments had to report information to
the central government, and these sources contain much important economic data. Shihuo Zhi
originated from the Han dynasty( 202 B.C.-220 A.D.), and in ancient Chinese, Shi means
agricultural production, while huo means production of subsidiary agriculture and textiles,
and money circulation. For each dynasty, Shihuo Zhi recorded data on important areas of
economic life, including land institutions, households and population, taxes and corvee
(unfree labour), monetary institutions, salt laws, metals and mining, fiscal budgets, and the
evolution of fiscal institutions. Shihuo Zhi thus contains much data on economic activity
including the amount of arable land, the total population, fiscal revenue, and the output of salt
and iron. Another important official historical source is Shilu, a kind of annual commissioned
by the Emperors to record in detail on a daily basis events that happened in the royal palace
and the whole country. Shilu, which were generally compiled by highly regarded
contemporary scholars, have been accorded high value in the historiography. Huiyao and
huidian chiefly recorded laws and institutions. Song Huiyao, for example, provides detailed
information on the legal system of the Song dynasty, while Ming huidian and Da Qing
huidian provide information on the administrative laws and regulations of the Ming and Qing
dynasties.

The authors of private historical works were sometimes distinguished historians of


their era. For example, Duanlin Ma, the author of Wenxian Tongkao, was a famous scholar,
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who wrote a general history of legal and political institutions from remote times to the
Northern Song. Tao Li, another historian living in the Song dynasty, wrote the
historiographical work Xu Zizhitongjian Changbian. Privately written historical works also
sometimes recorded important economic data based on the investigative research of the
authors.

A gazetteer is a kind of encyclopedia of a particular province, prefecture or county. It


is known in Chinese as Difang Zhi, which means area record, and contains information
about the natural geography, human geography, and economic geography of the area.
Gazetteers provide important economic data for this study, particularly where an industry was
concentrated regionally. Guangdong Tongzhi Chugao in the reign of the Jiajing Emperor, for
example, is an important source of data for the iron industry around Foshan town, Guangdong
province during the later stages of the Ming dynasty. Similarly, data on the porcelain industry
of Jingdezhen were taken from Raozhou Fuzhi in Jiangxi Province. Both these sources filled
important gaps in the official historical literature at the national level.

There are both advantages and disadvantages with each of these three kinds of
historical literature. The official historical literature has full national coverage and is highly
systematic, but in some cases lacks credibility. Since these historical records were designed
to meet the Emperors need to govern the country, the writers sometimes had an incentive to
distort reality. Thus, for example, at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, the population and
land data were recorded in a book named Huangce, since Emperor Hongwu wanted to know
how much tax revenue could be raised from the people. Once this work had been done, the
Emperor set a fixed fiscal revenue, so that later data on land and population do not reflect real
developments, which can only be tracked from other sources. The private historical literature

is therefore more credible than some of the official historical literature, but since it is less
complete, it should be seen as complementary to the official historical literature rather than as
a substitute. Gazetteers are also more credible than some of the official historical literature,
but they are also less complete, since they are only available at the sub-national level. In
some cases, it is possible to simply aggregate area level data to the national level, but in other
cases, it is necessary to make assumptions about the relationship between areas for which
data are available and the rest of the country.

It is worth noting that although some data from the official historical literature are not
very accurate, Chinese economic historians have drawn on other sources to publish adjusted
data. In addition to referencing the primary sources used in the calculations, this study
therefore also makes use of the findings of the pioneers of quantitative economic history in
China, including Xia Qi (2009), Zhengzhong Guo (1993; 1997), Xi Song (1958), Shengduo
Wang (1995), Lingling Wang (2005), Minsheng Cheng (2008) and Huarui Li (1991; 2001)
on Song history; and Dixin Xu and Cheng-Ming Wu (1985), Bozhong Li (1998; 2010), Pingti Ho (1985), Ray Huang (2001), Xinwei Peng (1965), Hansheng Quan (1991), Yeh-chien
Wang (2004), Yuquan Wang (2007), Xing Fang, Junjian Jing and Jinyu Wei (2007) and
Kang Chao (1986) on Ming and Qing history.

Although some series are available on an annual basis, others are not. In particular,
although it is possible to track long run trends in grain yields, there are no data on annual
fluctuations. Since this was the largest sector of the Chinese economy, and since grain yield
fluctuations were the key driver of annual fluctuations in GDP even in Britain, where
agriculture accounted for a much smaller share of GDP, a decision was taken to work towards
obtaining data every 10 years, along the lines of Liu and Hwang (1979).

3. POPULATION
Before reconstructing GDP from the output side, it will be helpful to set out trends in
population, which will be needed to derive estimates of GDP per capita, the key indicator of
overall economic performance in this study. In China, population data were systematically
recorded throughout the period covered here, in connection with taxation. It is generally
accepted that the officials were capable of recording the number of people accurately, but that
the institutional details of the tax system at a particular time affected the incentives for the
officials to count particular groups more or less carefully: landowners, households and
individuals (Perkins, 1969: 193). Taking account of these factors has allowed historians to
narrow the range of disagreement considerably, with the estimates of Liu and Hwang (1979)
commanding widespread support for the Ming and Qing dynasties (Maddison, 1998;
McEvedy and Jones, 1978).

The population data used here are taken from Liu and Hwang (1979) for the Ming and
Qing dynasties and from Jianxiong Ge and Songdi Wu (2000) for the Northern Song dynasty.
Ge and Wus Northern Song estimates agree broadly with the figures derived by Kent Deng
(2004: 43) for the Northern Song dynasty, obtained by multiplying the registered households
by a family size of 5.77, the long term average from years when both household and
population data are available. However, Ge and Wu suggest a slightly lower family size of
5.4.

The population data are plotted on a log scale in Figure 1, and show rapid growth
during the Northern Song dynasty at an annual rate of 0.87 per cent. Following a substantial
decline during the Mongol interlude, population growth returned during the Ming dynasty,

but at the slower rate of 0.32 per cent per annum. Following another population decline
during the next dynastic change, the annual growth rate picked up to 0.70 per cent during the
Qing dynasty.

4. AGRICULTURAL OUTPUT
Agricultural output is estimated mainly from data on the amount of land cultivated, the
distribution of different crops and the crop yields per unit of land. This section provides an
overview of the sources and methods, with more detail provided in Appendix A1. The
standard Chinese measure of land area is the mu, which is 1/15th of a hectare or 1/6th of an
acre. The livestock sector, which was much smaller in China than in Europe, was also
included using information on additional outputs. This output-based approach is more direct
than the alternative consumption approach, where agricultural demand is derived from
estimates of real agricultural consumption per person multiplied by the population.
Furthermore, Ruizhong Liu (1986) questions the reliability of the available data on
consumption per capita during the Qing dynasty, which suggest very low estimates of
kilocalorie consumption per capita.

Agriculture is first divided up into a number of different sectors, covering grain crops,
cash crops and subsidiary agricultural outputs. For grain crops, the starting point for the
estimation of output is the cultivated land area, which is derived ultimately from the official
data, but also draws upon information obtained from gazetteers and private histories.
Although it should clearly be borne in mind that land data were kept primarily for tax
purposes, and that people like to avoid taxes, biases arising from this are unlikely to be too
large because land is difficult to hide from officials, and people need to register their interest
to retain ownership rights (Perkins, 1969: 217). A more serious worry concerns the lack of a

standard measure for the mu, which varied between regions and over time, although much
effort has been devoted to documenting this (Perkins, 1969: 218-221).

Figure 2 plots on a log scale the cultivated land area for the Northern Song, Ming and
Qing dynasties, while Figure 3 plots the same data on a per capita basis. As will become clear
later, cultivated land per capita plays an important role in determining overall living
standards, since agriculture was the largest sector of the economy. Although the cultivated
land area grew substantially over time, albeit with a major decline between the Northern
Song and Ming dynasties and a smaller decline between the Ming and Qing dynasties, it did
not keep pace with the growth of population so that cultivated land per capita declined over
time from a peak of around 9 mu during the Northern Song dynasty to just 3 mu by the late
Qing period. The decline during the eighteenth century is broadly consistent with Huangs
(1985: 2002) process of involution, and would be hard to square with the positive assessment
of Chinese development until the nineteenth century offered by California School writers
such as Pomeranz (2000) and Wong (1997).

The distribution of the cultivated land area between crops is also available from
official sources, and the shares of important crops in benchmark years are shown in Table 1.
For the Northern Song dynasty, Xia Qi (2009) and Hui Wu (1985) suggest that 64% of the
cultivated land area devoted to grain production was in southern China, used for growing
rice, with the other 36% in north China used for growing wheat. They also suggest that 6% of
the cultivated area was used for growing cash crops rather than grain. For the Ming dynasty,
the breakdown between grain crops was 54.4% for rice and 45.6% for wheat (Songyi Guo,
2000). Yi Luo (1999) provides an assessment of the Qing crop distribution data against the
detailed crop breakdown for 1914-1918 from Perkins (1969) and the 1952 data from the

Statistical Yearbook of China. Rice and wheat accounted for 56 per cent of the cultivated area
in 1700, declining to 47 per cent by 1850, with corn, potatoes and cash crops all increasing
their shares significantly.

Grain yield data are also taken from official sources. As noted earlier, there are
difficulties of interpretation associated with the variation in the size of a mu over both space
and time, but painstaking work by historians to deal with this problem has produced a
consensus that grain yields increased over time (Xia Qi, 1999; Yi Luo, 1999; Perkins, 1969).
However, this increase in grain yields was not sufficient to offset the decline in cultivated
land per capita. During the Northern Song, wheat yields were stable at 210 jin per mu, while
husked rice yields increased from 195 to 230 jin per mu (corresponding to an increase in
unhusked rice yields from 390 to 460 jin per mu), with the introduction of high yielding
champa rice (Ping-ti Ho, 1956). Average grain yields for wheat and husked rice rose during
the Ming dynasty from 220 jin per mu in 1402 to 256 jin per mu by 1626, and during the
Qing dynasty from 230 jin per mu in 1685 to 295 jin per mu in 1850.

Quantities of grain crops are obtained by multiplying grain yields with cultivated
areas to yield the volume of gross output. These gross outputs are then multiplied by prices
obtained from the work of modern economic historians, including Xia Qi (2009) for the
Northern Song dynasty, and Xinwei Peng (1965) for the Ming and Qing dynasties. To derive
the value of net output, it is necessary to subtract the value of agricultural inputs such as seed
and fertiliser, which was assumed to account for 15 per cent of gross output, following Xing
Fang (1996) and Yi Luo (1999). It should be noted that since the share of value added was
held constant throughout the period, this adjustment does not affect the trend of agricultural
output.

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A number of cash crops, including cotton, soyabeans, rape, peanuts, tobacco, sugar
cane, sugar beet and hemp, occupied cultivated land. The share of cultivated land occupied
by cash crops, derived from official sources, rose from 6 per cent during the Northern Song
dynasty to 8 per cent during the Qing dynasty, with the intermediate level of 7.65 per cent
during the Ming dynasty being derived as a weighted average of 7 per cent in the northern
dry farmland areas and 8.2 per cent in the southern paddy farmland areas. The value of cash
crops per mu was set at 1.2 times the value of grain crops per mu, following the research of
Yi Luo (1999). Other cash crops, such as tea and fruit, did not occupy cultivated land, but
were important enough to have attracted the attention of officials, so that it is possible to
reconstruct trends in output from the production side during the Northern Song and Ming
dynasties, and from the consumption side during the Qing dynasty.

Subsidiary agricultural output included animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry.


Although no data are available on the specific outputs, estimates of the ratio of subsidiary
agricultural output values to the value of grain outputs are available for the twentieth century
from Perkins (1969) and Guangshao Tu (1984). The ratio in earlier periods was picked to be
consistent with the twentieth century data and a very small increase over time, from 10 per
cent during the Northern Song and Ming dynasties to 12 per cent in the Qing dynasty.

Figure 4 plots indices of the main categories of agricultural production. The index for
grain crops is the same as the index for subsidiary agricultural outputs during the Qing
dynasty, since the latter is proportional to the output of grain crops. The two indices differ for
earlier periods because the proportional share changes between dynasties. Although
subsidiary agricultural output increased by more than population, grain output failed to keep

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pace with population growth, so that agricultural output per head declined between the
Northern Song and Qing periods.

5. INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT
Industrial output is estimated from official data on quantities produced in state-run industries,
quantities purchased by the government in highly regulated industries and revenue raised
from the taxation of less heavily regulated industries. Information is also available from
gazetteers and private historical works, particularly where an industry was regionally
concentrated. Many economic historians have worked on the original data to provide crosschecks and make up for the shortcomings of individual sources. Industry is divided into four
main sectors: metals and mining; food processing; manufacturing; and building. As in
agriculture, the basic approach is to obtain data on the volume and value of each output. In
general, the gross output values are converted to a value added basis by using the ratio of
inputs to outputs from Baosan Wu and Yusun Wang (1947) throughout the period. This
adjustment to a value added basis therefore does not affect the trend of real growth, but rather
pins down the level of GDP in current prices. In a number of cases such as rice wine and
silver, however, the ratio of net to gross output values is taken directly from the historical
literature of the time, as detailed in Appendix A2.

The metals and mining sector includes iron, gold, silver, copper, tin and lead. There
have been numerous studies of the iron industry since the strong claims of Hartwell (1962)
that China produced as much as 150,000 tons of iron in 1078. Many subsequent researchers
argue that Hartwell seriously overestimated iron production in the Northern Song dynasty,
and the estimates used here are taken from the work of Sen Liu (1993), obtained by
aggregating the annual quantities of iron used for coining and government purchases. For the

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Ming dynasty, the state-run iron industry was based mainly in Zunhua City and the output
estimates are based on the official records. The private iron industry is tracked during this
period using tax revenue, with the tax rate set at one-fifteenth of output. For the Qing
dynasty, iron industry output is based on regional data for Guangdong, which became the
centre of the iron mining and metallurgical industry. Longqian Li (1979) added estimates
from other provinces to the Guangdong data to estimate the total volume of iron production.
Information on other metals, such as gold, silver, copper, lead and tin is derived using similar
methods from similar sources, as outlined in Appendix A2. The data clearly suggest that the
output of the metals and mining sector was much lower during the Ming than during both the
Northern Song and Qing dynasties. This seems to be largely the result of developments in the
state-owned sector, where there was a sharp decline in both the production of weapons and
the minting of coins. A famous politician and historian of the Ming dynasty, Qiujun,
estimates that the Ming output of the metals and mining sector was about one to two tenths of
the level of the previous dynasty (Daxue Yanyi Bu, Vol. 29, Shanze Zhili (profits from metals
and mining)). The private sector could not offset such a sharp decline until the Qing dynasty,
when the government gave up its prohibition of private production, and officials met imperial
demand by purchasing metal products in the market.

Food processing is divided into four main sections covering rice wine; tea-processing;
sugar; and other food-processing industries. Rice wine output in the Northern Song dynasty is
derived by Huarui Li (2001) from the tax levy on rice wine production. During the Ming and
Qing periods, by contrast, output is estimated from the demand side using per capita rice
wine consumption estimates for benchmark years (Xing Fang et al., 2007; Anwu Sizhong,
Vol, 26). Value added in the tea-processing industry is assumed to be 8 per cent of the value
of the agricultural output of tea, in line with the ratio estimated by Zhongli Zhang (1987).

13

Sugar output is estimated for the Qing dynasty from provincial data on Taiwan, Guangdong
and Fujian, where production was concentrated, with an allowance for other areas. For the
Ming and Northern Song periods, value added in the sugar industry was assumed to be 50 per
cent of that of the tea-processing industry, somewhat lower than the ratio of 70 per cent noted
by Zhongli Zhang (1987) for the 1880s, when sugar was more widely used. Other food
processing industries, including grain milling and seed crushing, are assumed to grow in line
with agricultural output, following the approach of Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton
and van Leeuwen (2011; 2014) for England.

The key products covered by the manufacturing sector include: salt; silk cloth; cotton
cloth; coinage; paper; porcelain; transport equipment, and other manufacturing industries.
Salt output is taken from the study by Zhengzhong Guo (1997), who collected salt production
data on a regional basis and aggregated it to the national level. Silk cloth output is derived
from output data for the industry, which was divided between a state-managed sector and a
private sector. Data for both sectors are taken from Jinmin Fan and Jin Wen (1993) for the
Qing period and derived from regional data for the Ming period. For the Northern Song
dynasty, silk output is estimated from the demand side using estimates of silk consumption
per household (Zengyu Wang, 1983; Shengduo Wang, 1995). After the Yuan dynasty, cotton
cloth replaced hemp fabric amongst the lower classes, so that cotton textiles became an
important handicraft sector in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Output is estimated from the
amount of labour engaged in cotton production, work time per labourer and labour
productivity (Xinwu Xu, 1992). The coinage industry was significant during the Northern
Song dynasty but negligible in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Historical sources suggest that
value added in the coinage industry was 40 per cent of the value of the coinage in the early
Northern Song dynasty, declining to 30 per cent by the later stages (Xiaochu Ji, Vol. 17;

14

Wenxian Tongkao Qianbi Kao). The output of the paper industry is estimated during the
Northern Song dynasty by aggregating the amount of paper transported from different regions
to the central government. For later periods, it is assumed to maintain the same share of
manufacturing output as in the 1880s (i.e. to grow at the same rate as manufacturing as a
whole). This is equivalent to the standard procedure in economic history of constructing an
industrial production index form a weighted sample of industries. Porcelain output during the
Northern Song dynasty is based on the work of Jilang Su (1997), who estimated profits and
costs of porcelain production in South Fujian and Guangdong province, which accounted for
half of total production in China. For the Ming dynasty, porcelain production is estimated
separately for the government and private sectors, while for the Qing period, estimates for
Jingdezhen are available from Miaotai Liang (1991). Transport equipment and other
manufacturing (fur products, metalware, furniture, clothing, stationery and decorations) are
assumed to have grown at the same rate as manufacturing as a whole. This is the same,
assumption as made for paper during the Ming and Qing dynasties, so that these industries
are included in the level of value added, but do not distort the rate of growth.

Building is assumed to grow in line with population, but with an allowance for
urbanization. This follows the procedure of Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van
Leeuwen (2011; 2014) in the estimation of English economic growth, 1270-1700. The
population and urbanization data are taken from Jianxiong Ge and Songdi Wu (2005) for the
Northern Song dynasty and from Shuji Cao (2005) for the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Indices of industrial production for the four main sectors are plotted in Figure 5.
Manufacturing, food processing and building all grew rapidly within the Northern Song,
Ming and Qing dynasties, but with some setback across the dynastic changes. Output in

15

metals and mining followed a more volatile path with a burst of rapid growth during the midSong period, followed by a period of stagnation after 1078. As noted by Hartwell (1962;
1966; 1967), the boom was driven by iron. Metals and mining remained depressed during the
Ming dynasty, before picking up again during the Qing dynasty, with a particularly rapid
growth phase during the eighteenth century.

6. SERVICE SECTOR OUTPUT


The service sector has received much less attention from economic historians than agriculture
and industry. Following Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011), the
service sector is broken down into four subsectors: commerce; finance; housing; and
government. The output of the commercial and financial subsectors is estimated largely from
data on marketed output and tax revenue raised from businessmen by the government. For
other services, output is estimated largely through tracking the number of workers and the
revenue per worker. Unlike agriculture and industry, where abundant data are available on
the volume of output in real terms, the main measure of service sector output is derived in
current price terms. In the next section, the ratio of service sector nominal output to the value
of nominal output in agriculture and industry will be used to increase the real output of
agriculture and industry proportionally, so as to arrive at a measure of real GDP. This
implies a long run constancy in relative prices between services and commodities.1

The output of the commercial sector is estimated from data on the value of
agricultural and industrial goods to be distributed. It is assumed that all industrial output was
marketed, and the share of agricultural output marketed is taken from Hui Wu (1987). This
1

Although there are continuous price series for many commodities, price data for services are much more
sporadic. However, it is possible to show that house rents, which formed the largest component of expenditure
on services, moved closely together with the price of grain, which formed the largest component of expenditure
on commodities, during the Qing dynasty (Huanchun Hong, 1988). The more limited house rent data from the
Northern Song dynasty are also consistent with this pattern (Minsheng Cheng, 2008).
16

series of gross marketed output is projected back from an 1840 benchmark estimate of GDP
in commerce, derived using Zhongli Zhangs (1987) estimate of the ratio of GDP in
commerce to GDP in agriculture and industry during the late Qing dynasty. The size of the
financial sector during the Qing dynasty is estimated from data on pawn shops, benchmarked
on the share of finance in services during the 1880s calculated by Zhongli Zhang (1987). The
ratio from the 1880s is assumed to hold throughout the Ming and Northern Song dynasties.
Following Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011), it is assumed that
housing and domestic service grew in line with population, with an allowance for
urbanisation. The total population is decomposed into rural and urban population according
to the urbanisation rate and divided by the average family size to determine the numbers of
households. The number of households is then multiplied by the average rent in rural and
urban areas respectively, to determine the total housing rent (Xing Fang, 1996: 92; Huanchun
Hong, 1988: 271-274, 646-647).

Data on the shares of the main service sectors in total service sector output are shown
in Figure 6. The most significant long term trend was the decline in the share of government,
which was offset by a growing share of commerce and housing, with the share of finance
remaining stable.

7. NOMINAL AND REAL GDP AND PER CAPITA REAL GDP


7.1 Constructing the estimates
Sections 4 to 6 have described how the net output of the agricultural, industrial, and service
sectors has been derived. In the agricultural and industrial sectors, the general approach has
been to establish the quantity of each product, together with the value of net output in current
prices. Aggregating across all sectors produces an estimate of nominal GDP in agriculture

17

and industry during the three dynasties. The next step is to arrive at an estimate of
agricultural and industrial GDP in real terms. Using 1840 as the benchmark year, for all years
the quantity of each product is multiplied by the 1840 price, with the same proportional
adjustment for net output as a share of gross output, to arrive at net output in 1840 prices.
Aggregating across all sectors produces real agricultural and industrial GDP in 1840 prices.

However, this approach cannot be applied to the service sector, where although the
current price value of net output is available, obtained from revenue data, there are no data on
output volumes or unit prices of individual services. The approach used here has been to take
the ratio of nominal GDP in services to nominal GDP in agriculture and industry for each
year between 980 and 1840. This ratio has then been applied to the real GDP of the
agricultural and industrial sectors to estimate aggregate real GDP. As noted earlier, this
implies a long run constancy in relative prices between services and commodities.

Figures 7 and 8 show nominal and real GDP of the Northern Song, Ming and Qing
dynasties. It is also interesting to put the real GDP data from Figure 8 together with the
population data from Figure 1 to derive real GDP per capita in Figure 9, since real GDP per
capita is the most widely used indicator of the level of material living standards over the long
run.

7.2 Comparing the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties


This section sheds light on the long term evolution of the Chinese economy between 980 and
1840 by comparing the growth rate of GDP and the average level of GDP per capita during
the three dynasties. Although Chinas territory expanded between the Northern Song and
Ming dynasties, and expanded further between the Ming and Qing dynasties, it is

18

nevertheless useful to compare these three dynasties. First, most of the newly extended
territory was sparsely populated, so that it did not have a particularly large effect on the
aggregate volume of economic activity. Second, our main concern is with GDP per capita,
which was affected even less by territorial changes. The average annual growth rate of real
GDP during the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties was 0.90%, 0.35%, and 0.58%,
respectively, although there were also sharp falls in the level of real GDP across dynastic
changes. Population outpaced real GDP over the long run, so that GDP per capita trended
downwards. In constant 1840 prices, GDP per capita during the Northern Song dynasty
averaged 26.5 taels, falling to 19.8 taels in the Ming dynasty and 14.2 taels in the Qing
dynasty. Per capita incomes were thus around three-quarters of the average Northern Song
level during the Ming dynasty, and had fallen further to just 54 per cent of the Northern Song
level during the Qing dynasty.

This general pattern of economic decline since the Northern Song dynasty is broadly
consistent with much of the literature on Chinese economic performance before the recent
revisionist work of the California School. The traditional view of peak Chinese performance
during the Northern Song dynasty is reflected in the work of economic historians such as
Robert Hartwell (1966), Mark Elvin (1973) and Karl August Wittfogel (1957), and can also
be seen as consistent with the view of Chinese science expressed by Joseph Needham (1954).
The very different pattern of long run Chinese economic performance proposed by California
School writers such as Kenneth Pomeranz (2000) and Bin Wong (1997), who deny any
divergence between China and the West before the nineteenth century, will be examined
critically in the next section. Before moving on to that, however, it is worth noting that there
is also some contrast with the pattern in Maddison (1998), who produced guesstimates

19

showing per capita GDP rising from $450 in 1990 international prices to $600 during the
Northern Song dynasty, before stagnating at $600 until the nineteenth century.

In understanding the reasons for the higher level of GDP per capita during the
Northern Song dynasty, and the subsequent decline in living standards, it is important to bear
in mind the large share of agriculture in economic activity, which can be seen in Figure 10.
The share of agriculture in current price GDP increased from 63.1% in the Northern Song to
74.5% in the Ming before falling back slightly to 67.8% in the Qing dynasty, when it was still
higher than during the Northern Song. Given the decline in the cultivated land per capita in
Figure 3, and the failure of grain yields to rise sufficiently to offset this over time, this led
inevitably to a decline in living standards over time. This represents what Huang (2002) calls
a process of involution, with population expansion leading to a growing division of land
holdings, driving down living standards towards bare bones subsistence.

8. THE GREAT DIVERGENCE


8.1 Comparing Britain and China
It is possible to compare the new GDP per capita estimates for China with the British
estimates from Broadberry, Campbell, Klein Overton and van Leeuwen (2011). However, to
do so requires converting the estimates for both countries into a common currency. Following
the work of Maddison (2001, 2010), this is usually done in terms of 1990 international
dollars. As well as presenting their series for Britain in terms of constant 1700 pounds
sterling, Broadberry, Campbell, Klein Overton and van Leeuwen (2011) also report figures in
1990 international dollars, converting Maddisons (2010) figure for 1850 from a United
Kingdom to a Great Britain basis. If we can establish Chinese GDP per capita as a proportion

20

of British GDP per capita in the mid-nineteenth century, we can thus arrive at a figure for
Chinese GDP per capita in 1990 international dollars.

We have data for nominal GDP per capita in 1840 in both countries and prices for a
number of important commodities, which can be used to convert the nominal GDP per capita
comparison to real terms. Table 2 sets out the 1840 price data for seven commodities, which
can be grouped into categories covering food and non-food items, with the former divided
between unprocessed grain products (wheat and rice) and more processed foods (sugar, tea
and salt). The non-food commodities cover textiles (cotton cloth) and metals (bar iron).
Sources are listed in the notes to the table. Weights are based on Feinstein (1995) and Horrell,
Humphries and Weale (1994) for Britain, adapted for China to reflect the importance of rice
production. Details are again given in the notes to the table. Using British weights, the
appropriate price ratio or purchasing power parity (PPP) in 1840 is 1 = 2.11 tael, while at
Chinese weights the PPP is 1 = 1.96 tael. Taking the geometric mean of British and Chinese
weights, the Fisher index PPP is 1 = 2.03 tael. The nominal exchange rate in 1840, given by
the silver weight of the tael compared to the pound sterling was 1 = 3.20 tael. The PPP was
therefore substantially below the exchange rate, as found by Allen (2009: 540-543) for the
Yangzi Delta in 1820. Note, however, that the PPP was substantially lower for food (1 =
1.53 tael) than for non-food commodities, where the PPP was close to the exchange rate (1
= 3.04 tael). This is again something which Allen (2009: 541) found for the Yangzi Delta in
1820, and is explained by the possibility of arbitrage in tradable commodities. Food can be
treated as effectively non-tradable because of the high cost of transporting low value but
bulky items.

21

Table 3 provides an estimate of Chinese GDP per capita in 1840 benchmarked on


Great Britain. Nominal GDP and population are taken directly from this study for China and
from Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011) for Britain. At the
silver exchange rate, Chinese GDP per capita was only 14.95 per cent of the British level.
However, allowing for the lower price level in China by using the PPP suggests that Chinese
GDP per capita was 23.57 per cent of the British level. Taking the 1840 level of British GDP
per capita in 1990 international dollars as $2,521, from Broadberry, Campbell, Klein,
Overton and van Leeuwen (2011) and Chinese GDP per capita in that year as 23.57 per cent
of the British level, suggests a figure for Chinese GDP per capita in 1990 international dollars
of $594. This is reassuringly close to the figure of $600 suggested by Maddison (2010) for
1850.

Table 4 presents the GDP per capita series for both China and Britain for the long
period 980-1850. These estimates suggest that Northern Song China was substantially richer
than Britain at around the time of the Domesday Book in the late eleventh century. However,
per capita incomes declined in China during the later years of the Northern Song dynasty and
remained at this lower level after the Mongol Interlude. With per capita incomes rising in
Britain after the Black Death of 1348 and the recurrent plague outbreaks had significantly
reduced population, Britain was already ahead by the first half of the fifteenth century. Per
capita incomes stagnated in both China and Britain during the Ming dynasty, so that Chinas
per capita income fluctuated around 90 per cent of the British level. China then fell further
behind during the Qing dynasty as per capita incomes declined in China and incomes started
to increase rapidly in Britain from the mid-seventeenth century. By the mid-nineteenth
century, Chinese per capita GDP was just 20 per cent of the British level.

22

8.2 The Little Divergence within Europe


So far, we have compared China only with Britain. However, Britain was a relatively poor
part of Europe in the eleventh century and a relatively rich part by 1850, as can be seen in the
new estimates of GDP per capita presented in Table 5. Before the Black Death struck in
1348, per capita incomes were substantially higher in Italy and Spain than in England and
Holland. There then followed a substantial reversal of fortunes between the North Sea Area
and Mediterranean Europe, so that by 1800, per capita incomes were substantially higher in
Britain and the Netherlands than in Italy and Spain. This Little Divergence accompanied
the Great Divergence between Europe and Asia.

8.3 Reversals of fortune within Asia


Table 6 also suggests a reversal of fortunes within Asia. Japan had very low levels of per
capita GDP until 1450, but then experienced episodic growth of the kind seen in Britain and
Holland. A phase of positive growth between 1450 and 1600 was followed by a plateau
before a second phase of growth from the 1720s. Japans more rapid growth after the Meiji
Restoration of 1868, which marked the first transition to modern economic growth in Asia,
was therefore built on this earlier period of dynamism. By contrast, Chinese per capita GDP
was on a downward trajectory from its high point during the Northern Song dynasty. On
these estimates, Japan overtook China during the eighteenth century. Like China, India
experienced declining GDP per capita from the Mughal peak under Akbar, circa 1600. Japan
also pulled decisively ahead of India only during the eighteenth century.

8.4 The Great Divergence


The GDP per capita figures presented here suggest that China was richer than Britain in 1090.
However, they also suggest that China was certainly poorer than Italy by 1300. During the

23

Ming dynasty, Chinese GDP per capita declined, so that by the early seventeenth century,
despite still being the richest Asian country, China had already fallen substantially behind the
leading West European economies in the North Sea Area. However, we need to be careful
here, since a smaller region of China such as the Yangzi Delta may still have been on a par
with the richest parts of the North Sea Area in 1500. For the Yangzi Delta to have been on a
par with Holland in 1500 would only have required per capita incomes to have been around
32 per cent higher than in China as a whole, which is quite consistent with the scale of
regional differences within China during the nineteenth century (Li and van Zanden, 2012).

But with the rise of Holland during its Golden Age, 1570-1650, and Great Britain
from the mid-seventeenth century, there can be little doubt that the Great Divergence was
already well underway before the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century. By this
stage, the discrepancies between the aggregate per capita income levels for China and the
leading North Sea Area economies were surely too large to be bridged by regional variation
within China. It is worth noting that Pomeranz (2011) now accepts that his earlier claim of
China on a par with Europe as late as 1800 was exaggerated, and he now settles for the earlier
date of 1700.

9. CONCLUDING COMMENTS
This paper provides estimates of Chinese GDP and relative standing in the world constructed
from the output side between 980 and 1840, covering the Northern Song, Ming, and Qing
dynasties. These GDP estimates are combined with population data to track the path of
average living standards. Chinas GDP per capita reached its peak level during the Northern
Song dynasty, before entering a long decline which lasted through the Ming and Qing
dynasties. Per capita incomes were around three-quarters of the average Northern Song level

24

during the Ming dynasty, and had fallen further to just 54 per cent of Northern Song level
during the Qing dynasty.

From an international perspective, Northern Song China was substantially richer than
Domesday Britain in 1090, but by 1400 Britain had overtaken China. Although China led the
world in living standard during the Northern Song dynasty, China had fallen behind Italy by
1300. At this point, however, and even until the seventeenth century, it is quite possible that a
relatively rich Chinese region such as the Yangzi Delta was on a par with the most developed
parts of Europe. But Chinese GDP per capita declined at the beginning of the Ming dynasty
and then stagnated, so that by the beginning of the eighteenth century, the gap between China
and the most developed parts of Europe was too large to be bridged by regional variation
within China. Since China was still the richest Asian country at this time, it is therefore likely
that Western Europe was ahead of Asia not just by the early nineteenth century, but already
by the late seventeenth century.

25

FIGURE 1: Chinese population during the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties
(millions, log scale)

Sources: Jianxong Ge and Songdi Wu (2005); Liu and Hwang (1979).

26

FIGURE 2: Cultivated land of the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties (million mu,
log scale)

Sources: See Appendix A1 for a detailed discussion of sources and methods.

FIGURE 3: Cultivated land per capita of the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties
(mu, log scale)

Sources: See Appendix A1 for a detailed discussion of sources and methods.

27

TABLE 1Shares of important crops

Rice
Wheat
Barley
Millet
Corn
Potatoes
Sorghum
Other crops
Cash crops
Total

1000
60.0

1400
50.2

34.0
6.0
100.0

42.1
7.7
100.0

1700
33.0
23.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
0.5
8.1
9.4
11.0
100.0

1750
31.0
22.0
7.2
8.2
1.2
0.5
8.3
9.7
12.0
100.0

1800
29.0
21.0
7.3
8.4
2.3
0.8
8.4
9.8
13.0
100.0

1850
27.0
20.0
7.2
8.2
3.5
1.2
8.3
9.6
15.0
100.0

Sources: Hui Wu (1985); Songyi Guo (2000); Yi Luo (1999).

FIGURE 4: Indices of agricultural output (1840=100)

Sources and notes: See Appendix A1 for a detailed discussion of sources and methods. The
index of grain crops is the same as subsidiary agriculture during the Qing dynasty, since
subsidiary agricultural output is assumed proportional to the output of grain crops.

28

FIGURE 5: Indices of industrial output (1840=100)

Sources: See Appendix A2.

FIGURE 6: Subsectoral shares of service sector output

Sources: See Appendix A3.

29

FIGURE 7: Nominal GDP of the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties (million
silver taels, log scale)

Sources: See Appendices A1 to A3.

FIGURE 8: Real GDP of the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties (million 1840
taels, log scale)

Sources: See Appendices A1 to A3.

30

FIGURE 9: Real GDP per capita of the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties
(1990 international dollars, log scale)

Sources: See Appendices A1 to A3.

FIGURE 10: Agricultures share of GDP during the Northern Song, Ming and Qing
dynasties

See Appendix A1.

31

TABLE 2: A China/GB PPP for 1840

Rice
Wheat
Sugar
Tea
Salt
Cotton cloth
Iron
FOOD
OTHER
TOTAL

China
tael/lb
0.01407
0.00900
0.04900
0.09347
0.00544
0.04195
0.20690

GB
per lb
0.02500
0.00691
0.02191
0.13021
0.00134
0.00402
0.11301

PPP
Tael per
0.56
1.30
2.24
0.72
4.07
1.83
10.44
1.53
3.04
2.03

Chinese
weights
0.201
0.134
0.134
0.134
0.067
0.284
0.046

British
weights
0.000
0.335
0.134
0.134
0.067
0.284
0.046

Sources and notes:


GB:
Rice: Beveridge (1939: 433). The figure of 6s per 12 lb from the Lord Stewards Department
actually refers to 1830.
Wheat: UK Board of Trade (1903: 70). The figure of 66s 4d per imperial quarter is taken
originally from the London Gazette.
Sugar: UK Board of Trade (1903: 162). The average price per cwt unrefined sugar exclusive
of duty.
Tea: UK Board of Trade (1903: 177). Average price per lb in bond.
Salt: UK Board of Trade (1903: 188). Data originally from Greenwich Hospital.
Iron: Mitchell (1988: 762). English merchant bar iron at Liverpool.
Cotton cloth: Mitchell (1988: 761). Average value of cotton piece goods exported, converted
from yards to lb using 1840 ratio from Robson (1957: 331).
Weights: Based on Feinstein (1995) for the mid-nineteenth century. Food and non-food items
have weights of 0.67 and 0.33, respectively. For the breakdown within food, Feinstein (1995)
suggests that grain based products (wheat flour and bread) accounted for around half of
expenditure on food. Thus wheat is given a weight of 0.335 and rice, which was prohibitively
expensive, has a weight of zero. The remaining expenditure on food has been allocated across
sugar, tea and salt, with equal weights for sugar and tea and a smaller weight for salt, again
broadly consistent with budget studies. Within non-food, the breakdown between cotton and
iron is in proportion to the value added in these two industries, from Horrell et al. (1994).
China:
Rice: Xinwei Peng (1965: 850).
Wheat: Zheng Guangzu (1990).
Sugar: Fu Chongju (1987).
Tea: Xiangao Yao (1962, vol 1: 582), based on export prices.
Salt: Qingshi Gao, Shihuozhi Yanfa.
Iron: Kong (1981: 509, 527), wrought iron.
Cotton cloth: Xiangao Yao (1962, vol 1: 557, 616), based on export prices.
Weights: The weights are the same as for Britain, apart from an allowance within food for
rice, based on the late-Qing ratio between wheat and rice production (30:20). Within nonfood, the breakdown between cotton and iron is broadly consistent with the late-Qing shares
of value added in textiles and metals production.

32

TABLE 3: A benchmark estimate of China/GB GDP per capita in 1840


China
Nominal GDP (million tael)
Population (million)
GDP per capita (tael)

5,337
412
12.95

England
Nominal GDP ( million)
Population (million)
GDP per capita ()

496.30
18.332
27.07

Exchange rates
Silver exchange rate (tael per )
PPP (tael per )

3.20
2.03

Comparative China/GB GDP per capita (%)


At silver exchange rate
At PPP

14.95
23.57

GDP in 1990 international dollars


GB
China

2,521
594

Sources and notes: Nominal GDP and population from Figures 1 and 7 for China, and from
Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011) for Britain. Silver exchange
rate derived from the silver weight of the tael and pound sterling from van Glahn (1996: 133)
and Craig (1953), respectively. PPP from Table 2. GDP for Britain in 1990 international
dollars from Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011).

33

TABLE 4: GDP per capita levels in China and Britain (1990 international dollars)

980
1020
1050
1090
1120
1270
1300
1400
1450
1500
1570
1600
1650
1700
1750
1800
1840
1850

China
($1990)
1,247
1,518
1,458
1,204
1,063

960
983
1,127
968
977
841
685
597
594
594

GB
($1990)

China/GB
(GB=100)

754

159.7

759
755
1,090
1,055
1,114
1,143
1,123
1,110
1,563
1,710
2,080
2,521
2,997

88.1
93.2
101.2
84.7
87.0
53.8
40.1
28.7
23.6
19.8

Sources and notes: GB: Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011);
Walker (2012). China: Figure 9.

34

TABLE 5: GDP per capita levels in Europe (1990 international dollars)

1750
1800

England/
GB
759
755
777
1,090
1,055
1,114
1,143
1,123
1,100
1,630
1,563
1,710
2,080

1820
1850

2,133
2,997

1270
1300
1348
1400
1450
1500
1570
1600
1650
1700

Holland/
NL

876
1,245
1,432
1,483
1,783
2,372
2,171
2,403
2,440
2,617
1,752
1,953
2,397

Italy

Spain

1,482
1,376
1,601
1,668
1,403
1,337
1,244
1,271
1,350

957
957
1,030
885
889
889
990
944
820
880

1,403
1,244

910
962

1,376
1,350

1,087
1,144

Sources and notes: England/Great Britain: Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van
Leeuwen (2011). The data refer to the territory of England before 1700 and Great Britain
after 1700; Holland/Netherlands: van Zanden and van Leuwen (2012). The data refer to
Holland before 1800 and the Netherlands after 1800; Italy: Malanima (2011); Spain: lvarezNogal and Prados de la Escosura (2013).

35

TABLE 6: GDP per capita levels in Europe and Asia (1990 international dollars)
England/
GB
730
900
980
1020
1050
1090
1120
1150
1280
1300
1400
1450
1500
1570
1600
1650
1700
1750
1800
1850

Holland/
NL

Italy

Japan

China

India

551
476
1,247
1,518
1,458
1,204
1,063

754

679
755
1,090
1,055
1,114
1,143
1,123
1,110
1,563
1,710
2,080
2,997

508
552
1,245
1,432
1,483
1,783
2,372
2,171
2,403
2,440
1,752
2,397

1,482
1,601
1,668
1,403
1,337
1,244
1,271
1,350
1,403
1,244
1,350

552

605
619
597
622
703
777

960
983
1,127
968
977
841
685
597
594

682
638
622
573
569
556

Sources: GB: Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011); Walker
(2012); Holland/Netherlands: van Zanden and van Leuwen (2012); Italy: Malanima (2011);
China: Figure 9; Japan: Bassino, Broadberry, Fukao, Gupta and Takashima (2014); India:
Broadberry, Custodis and Gupta (2014).

36

APPENDIX 1: DATA SOURCES AND METHODS


A1 AGRICULTURE
A1.1 Grain Crops
A1.1.1 Northern Song grain crops
For the amount of cultivated land, we can find the official statistics of 976, 997, 1021, 1051,
1066 and 1083 from Wenxian Tongkao, Tianfu kao, Lidai Tianfu Zhizhi2 and Songshi, Shihuo
Zhi, Nongtian3. However, due to the fiscal reform of the law of two kinds of taxes, land tax
revenue was based on the reported amount of land. As a result, the actual amount of
cultivated land was under-reported for tax evasion purposes during the middle and late
periods of the Northern Song. For example, Xia Qi (2009) finds that the actual amount of
cultivated land was far greater than the official amount after 1051. Therefore, we follow Xia
Qis method to derive the actual amount of cultivated land during the middle and last stages.
Grain yield per mu is available mainly from Song Huiyao Jigao, Shihuo and Xu Zizhi
Tongjian Changbian. Here, we use the average country level estimates from Xia Qi (2009)
and Hui Wu (1985). Grain yields were generally higher in Southern China than in Northern
China, while Eastern China had higher yields than Western China. Looking at the entire
Northern Song period, the grain yield per mu increased gradually. According to the data from
Xia Qi (2009) and Hui Wu (1985), Southern China accounted for 64% of the total cultivated
land and Northern China for the remaining 36%. They also estimate that 6% of total
cultivated land was occupied by cash crops rather than grain crops. The yield of the cash
crops was generally higher than that of the grain crops, as will be discussed in detail later.
For both Southern China and Northern China, the amount of cultivated land is multiplied by
the grain yield per mu to arrive at grain output for each year, with separate calculations for
the two regions. The regional estimates are then aggregated to arrive at annual estimates of
the grain output of China as a whole. The price series of various grain crops are taken from
Xia Qi (2009) and Hansheng Quan (1991), both of whom estimate the price series of rice and
wheat, and argue that the prices of other crops (such as millet and beans) are similar to the
price of wheat. Using grain production multiplied by the price of the different crops, produces
annual estimates of the value of grain output. To derive the value of net output in the grain
producing sector, it is necessary to subtract the value of agricultural inputs such as seed and
fertilizer, which was set at around 15%, following the research of Xing Fang (1996) and Yi
Luo (1999).
A1.1.2 Ming grain crops
The amount of cultivated land after 1400 can be derived at a 10-year frequency from the data
of Paul K. C. Liu and Kuo-shu Hwang (1977), and interpolated to arrive at annual estimates.
Grain yield per mu is derived by Songyi Guo (2000) from a sample of land rent rate data,
covering 37 southern rice areas and 8 northern wheat areas, based on three different grades of
land (high, middle, and low).
Xinwei Peng (1965) records the price series of rice measured in silver throughout the Ming
dynasty based on a 10-year frequency. Data on the price of wheat are more limited for this
period, but suggest a price of around 80% of the price of rice. By taking the shares of rice and
2

Examinations of the historical literature, especially concerning the land tax and land tax institutions of
every dynasty.
3
History of the Song Dynasty, Notes on economic activities, Land used by Agriculture.
37

wheat in the total cultivated land area, and multiplying by the price of rice and wheat
respectively, it is possible to arrive at the value of gross output. Net output is then derived by
subtracting around 18% of the gross value to account for agricultural inputs such as seed and
fertilizer.
A1.1.3 Qing grain crops
The amount of cultivated land is taken from Yi Luo (1999) for 1685 and 1700; from Zhihong
Shi (2001) for 1724 and 1850; and from Songyi Guo (2000) for 1812. Starting from the
distribution of the main crops in 1914-1918 (Perkins, 1969)4 and the crop distribution data5 in
1952, Yi Luo (1999) provides estimates of the geographical distribution of many important
crops during the Qing dynasty, shown in Table 1.
Recent research suggests that the grain yield per mu increased gradually during the Qing
dynasty (Yi Luo, 1999). Grain output is derived by multiplying these grain yields by the
cultivated land area. Multiplying these estimates by the price of grain crops then yields output
values. Grain crop prices during the Qing dynasty are taken from the work of Xinwei Peng
(1965), Hansheng Quan (1991) and Yeh-chien Wang (2003) for rice, and from Guangzu
Zhengs Yibanlu (2003) and Yi Luo (1999) for other crops. Net output is derived by
subtracting 18% of the gross value to account for agricultural inputs such as seed and
fertilizer (Yi Luo, 1999).
A1.2 Cash Crops
A1.2.1 Northern Song cash crops
Although some cash crops occupy cultivated land, others do not. The amount of cultivated
land occupied by cash crops was about 6% of the total cultivated land. Based on research by
Yi Luo, (1999) the value of cash crops per mu was about 1.2 times the average value of the
grain crops per mu6. The output value of the cash crops is thus obtained by multiplying the
amount of cultivated land used for cash crops by the yield per mu.
Other cash crops, such as tea and fruit, which do not occupy cultivated land, were important
agricultural products during the Northern Song. There are numerous official tea purchasing
records throughout the Northern Song, when tea production was strictly regulated by the
government. There was also a large amount of private tea, which is taken into consideration
by referencing Hongsheng Suns (1986) research. Because of the big price gap between
different grades of tea, the average price is used to calculate the total output value of the tea
industry, following the work of Jinfang Ge (2008) and Minsheng Cheng (2008). According to
Baosan Wu and Yusan Wang (1947), the net value of tea is around 85% of the gross value.
A1.2.2 Ming cash crops

Perkins used data from the Republic of China Agricultural Bureau of Investigation to calculate the crop
distribution in 1914-1918.
5
See Statistical Yearbook of China,1952.
6
Ruizhong Liu (1986) estimates the value of cash crops per mu to be about 2 times the average value of
the grain crops per mu. Yi Luo (1999) argues that the return from cash crops could not have been much
higher than this since when a high return cash crop was introduced in a particular area, although there may
have been specific geographical factors in some cases, it would typically diffuse to other areas, thus
reducing the return from cash crops close to the return from grain crops within a short period of time. He
argues that 1.2 times is more reasonable, and we use this value in our calculations. Philip Huang (1985)
has also researched this phenomenon.
38

Northern dry farmland and southern paddy farmland accounted for 45.6% and 54.4% of the
total cultivated land area, respectively. The proportion of cultivated land used for cash crops
was 7% on the northern dry farmland, and 8.2% on the southern paddy farmland, so cash
crops accounted for 7.65% of the total cultivated land. As in the Northern Song dynasty, the
average value of cash crops (such as cotton, soybeans, rape, peanut, tobacco, sugar cane,
beet, hemp, maintains, etc.) per mu on cultivated land was about 1.2 times the average value
of grain crops per mu. Multiplying this cash crop yield per mu by the amount of cultivated
land for cash crops yields the total value of gross output for cash crops on the cultivated land.
The production of tea, which did not occupy cultivated land, can be constructed from the
consumption side. Per capita tea consumption during the Ming dynasty was assumed to be
the average of the Northern Song and Qing dynasties, and this was multiplied by population
to arrive at total consumption, which was assumed to be equal to production. As a result of
limited information, it is not possible to calculate the value of other cash crops not occupying
cultivated land, such as fruits.
A1.2.3 Qing cash crops
During the Qing Dynasty, the average value per mu of cash crops on cultivated land is
assumed to be 1.2 times the average level of grain crops, and the cultivated land for cash
crops accounts for 11-15% of the total cultivated land. Other cash crops that did not occupy
cultivated land, including tea, fruits, etc., were also important. In particular, the production of
tea increased sharply during the Qing dynasty. Based on the records in Qing Shilu, it is
possible to estimate the domestic consumption of tea, which amounts to 1.5 to 1.8 million
Jin7 per year both before and during the middle period of the Kangxi Emperor and 2.5 to 3.4
million Jin per year from the late period of the Kangxi Emperor to the period of the
Yongzheng Emperor, and climbing to 6.9 million Jin per year during the reigns of the
Qianlong and the Jiaqing Emperors. Besides the amount of tea consumed domestically, the
amount of tea produced for export can also be taken into account. China exported about 40 to
50 thousand Dan 8 per year after 1760. The total production of tea each year is estimated by
adding total exports to domestic consumption. The value of tea output is then obtained by
multiplying the volume of output by the price of tea with reference to the work of Wenxi Tan
(1994) and Miantang Huang (2008). Net output of tea amounted to 85 % of the gross value in
1933, according to Baosan Wu and Yusan Wang (1947). Since tea was a labour intensive
crop without rapid technological progress, this ratio was assumed stable from the Northern
Song to the Qing dynasty.
A1.3 Subsidiary Agricultural Output
Subsidiary agriculture includes animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, and other sidelines.
According to Perkins (1969), from 1914 to 1918, the output value of livestock raising9 was
equivalent to 11.2% of the output value of grain crops in China. Guangshao Tu (1984) argues
that the output value of the subsidiary agricultural industries accounted for 19.6% of the
output value of grain crops in the 1930s. In this paper, the ratio of the value of subsidiary
agricultural outputs to the value of grain crops is assumed to be 10% during the Northern
Song and the Ming, and 12% during the Qing dynasty.
A2 INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT
A2.1 Metal and Mining Industries
7

Jin: a unit of weight in ancient China, 1 Jin=500 grams.


Dan: a unit of weight in ancient China, 1 Dan=100 Jin.
9
Not including poultry, fisheries, and forestry.
8

39

A2.1.1 Northern Song metals and mining


The most accessible data on the mining and metallurgical industries of ancient China are the
quantities purchased by the government, called ke e(r) or tax quota. Since the iron industry is
very important to the national economy, there are numerous studies of the production of iron,
which can be used for reference. For other minerals, the ke e(r) is used to calculate the output
value.
Hartwell (1962) claims that the amount of iron produced in China was about 75,000 to
150,000 tons in 1078. Many subsequent researchers argue that Hartwell seriously
overestimated iron production. Sen Liu (1993) provides alternative estimates of the output of
iron by aggregating the annual quantities of iron used for coinage and the ke e(r), with an
allowance for iron used in daily life and for making tools. Sen Lius (1993) estimates are
used here.
For other metals, such as gold, silver, copper, lead and tin, the volume of output is estimated
from the ke e(r), following the research of Lingling Wang (2005) and Shengduo Wang
(1995), based on the original data from Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian, Wenxian Tongkao,
Song Huiyao Jigao. Because of the governments strict regulation of the production of copper
and tin, which were used for minting in the Northern Song, the gap between real output and
the ke e(r) of every year is very small, but the gap for gold and silver is a little larger. For the
period 1078-1125, the original data show too steep a decline because they cover only the
southern area of Northern Song China. For gold, silver, copper, lead and tin, output has been
held constant after 1078. For iron, Sen Lius (1993) data exclude Sichuan, for which a
separate estimate has been made.
The price series of gold and silver are taken from Shige Kato (2006), Xia Qi (2009),
Shengduo Wang (1995) and Wencheng Wang (2001). The price of iron is taken from
Lingling Wang (2005) and Minsheng Cheng (2008), while the price series of copper, tin,
lead, vitriol and cinnabar are from Minsheng Cheng (2008). The production of the vitriol
industry can be constructed from the relevant records of Song Huiyao, Shihuo; Songshi,
Shihuozhi; Wenxian Tongkao.
Since few data are available for the Northern Song coal industry, the value of coal output is
estimated on the assumption that the ratio of coal output to iron output was the same during
the Northern Song as during the Ming dynasty. Yinxing Song (1954) established that coal
accounted for 70 per cent of the fuel used in the Northern Song iron industry, while the share
of fuel in costs is assumed to be the same as Baosan Wu and Yusun Wang (1947) found for
1933. Coal used in porcelain and salt is estimated to be one third of the level used in iron
production.
A2.1.2 Ming metals and mining
Silver was used universally as currency at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, but the
production data are limited. The production of silver is determined from the official tax
records of the silver mining industry. For the Ming dynasty, the tax rate on the silver mining
industry was around 30%, which was levied on the amount of silver produced. The output
value of the silver mining industry during the Ming dynasty can thus be estimated from the
tax revenue of Ming Shilu.
The state-run iron industry was mainly in Zunhua City, and the production of the state-run
iron industry can be derived from the official records. The production of the private iron
40

industry can be calculated from the tax revenue, which can be found in Ming Shilu; Daming
Huidian, Vol.194; and Guangdong Tongzhi Chugao of Jiajing Empero(Qichen Huang, 1989).
For the Ming dynasty, the tax rate on the iron mining industry was always 6.66% or 1/15th of
total output.
Information on the production of coal during the Ming dynasty is limited. In Tiangong
Kaiwu, a famous encyclopedia for manufacturing and technology in ancient China, Yingxing
Song mentions that 70% of the fuel used for smelting iron was coal. It is therefore possible to
calculate roughly the production value of coal from the production of iron, given information
on the share of fuel in total costs. Other metal mining industries were small in size. The tax
rate on the gold mining industry was 20%, so the output value of gold can be estimated from
the tax revenue. Tax data on the private copper industry and production data on the state-run
copper industry are available only infrequently, but can be used to provide estimates of total
copper production in those years. For other mining and metallurgical industries, such as lead
and tin, output is assumed to move in line with the output of copper, consistent with the
situation during the Northern Song dynasty.
A2.1.3 Qing metals and mining
During the Qing dynasty, the government gave up the right to monopolize the mining of
minerals. In some provinces, there are thus gaps in the data on copper production. Abundant
data exist for Yunnan province, which was an important centre of copper mining, and to
which estimates for other provinces are added, based on more fragmentary information,
Copper output data come from Zeyi Peng (1962). Since Guangdong became the centre of the
iron mining and metallurgical industry during the late Ming dynasty, a similar approach can
be used to estimate the production of iron. Data from Longqian Li (1979) are used to estimate
the output of iron in Guangdong, to which estimates of output from other provinces are added
to get the total volume of iron production.
For coal mining, output is estimated from iron output, together with the share of coal in the
cost of iron production using data from Yingxing Song (1954), supplemented with an
allowance for coal used in porcelain production and domestic consumption.
For the Qing dynasty, at least before the mid period of the Qianlong Emperor, private capital
was allowed to participate in the mining and metallurgical industries of gold, silver and tin
but the data series are also limited here. Zhongli Zhang (1987) has estimated the output value
of those three mining and metallurgical industries in 1887, and argues that the output value of
the gold industry was 83% of the iron industry; the output value of the silver industry was the
same as the copper industry; and the output value of the tin industry was three times that of
the copper industry. By assuming that those ratios also held during the early Qing dynasty, it
is possible to derive the output value of those three industries. By aggregating these data, the
total output value of the mining and metallurgical industries during the Qing dynasty can be
estimated.
A2.2 Food Processing
A2.2.1 Rice wine industry
For the Northern Song dynasty, the production of wine can be calculated by the tax levy on
rice wine production. Huarui Li (2001) gathers data on tax revenue from wine production in
Dongjing and Hangzhou, two flourishing commercial regions in the Northern Song, and uses
it to derive estimates of wine output. According to this research, 10,000 Guan of tax revenue
translates into 8,000 to 12,000 Dou of wine output. The output of rice wine is estimated for
41

some key years and then interpolated log-linearly to calculate the output for other years. The
cost of production was about 35% of the gross output value in the wine industry (Huarui Li,
1991).
For the Ming dynasty, given the scarcity of data on wine production, output is estimated from
the demand side. Based on data from the Qing dynasty, it is assumed that 10% of the
population drank rice wine approximately 250 days per year, and consumed one Jin of wine
per day10. Total rice wine consumption can therefore be estimated and it is assumed that
production was roughly equal to consumption. This volume information can be combined
with data on the price of wine from Miantang Huang (2008) to derive the value of wine
output during the Ming dynasty. As in the Northern Song, net output was assumed to be 65%
of the gross value. The demand approach is also used for estimating rice wine output during
the Qing dynasty.
A2.2.2 Tea processing industry
According to Zhongli Zhang (1987), value-added in the tea-processing industry in the 1880s
was 8% of the value of tea output. This ratio is applied throughout the Northern Song, Ming
and Qing dynasties to the tea output data from the agricultural sector.
A2.2.3 Sugar industry
Zhongli Zhang (1987) estimates that value-added in the sugar industry accounted for 70% of
that of the tea-processing industry in the 1880s. In line with qualitative evidence of lower
sugar consumption during earlier times, this ratio is set at 50% during the Northern Song and
the same assumption is used for the Ming dynasty. During the Qing dynasty, sugar was
produced mainly in Taiwan, Guangdong and Fujian. Data on output in these provinces can be
gathered, and an allowance can also be made for other areas, such as some parts of Guangxi,
Jiangxi, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. By aggregating this data, it is possible to calculate
the output of sugar for China as a whole. The price of sugar can be obtained from Miantang
Huang (2008) and Wenxi Tan (1994) and combined with the volume data to derive the value
of output during the Qing dynasty.
A2.2.4 Other food processing industries
The food-processing industry also includes the milling and oil refining industries, for which
few data are available. Following Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen
(2011), we assume other food processing industries grew in line with agricultural output. The
level of other food processing is set in relation to sugar and tea-processing during the 1880s,
from Zhongli Zhang (1987).
A2.3 Manufacturing Industry
A2.3.1 Salt
For the Northern Song dynasty, salt output is based mainly on the work of Zhengzhong Guo
(1997), who collected data on salt production in different regions and then aggregated it to
arrive at national salt output. According to Xia Qi (2009), the price of salt was determined by
the government because of the salt monopoly at that time. The data of Baosan Wu and Yusun
Wang (1947) suggest that the net value of salt accounted for 62 % of the gross value in 1933,
and this ratio is assumed to hold all the way back to the Northern Song dynasty.

10

See Xing Fang et al. (2007) p.426,or Bao Shichen (1968), Vol.26.
42

For the Ming dynasty, although salt tax data were recorded in Ming Shilu, they do not provide
reliable estimates of salt output, which is estimated from the consumption side. Salt
consumption per capita is assumed to be the average of the Northern Song and Qing
dynasties and is multiplied by population to arrive at total consumption, which is assumed to
be equal to output. Ming Shilu also recorded the price of salt measured by silver in some
years. The net output of the Ming salt industry was assumed to be 62% of the gross output.
The salt output of the Qing dynasty is also based on the research of Zhengzhong Guo (1997),
who collected the data of salt production in most years. The price of salt from Wenxi Tan
(1994) is used to calculate the gross value, and the net value of salt production amounts to
62% of the gross value.
A2.3.2 Silk cloth
For the Northern Song dynasty, there are no historical materials recording silk cloth
production, so output must be estimated using the consumption approach. First, silk
consumption per household is estimated and then multiplied by the total number of
households to derive total silk consumption in the country as a whole. By assuming that total
production is equal to total consumption, silk cloth output can be determined on an annual
basis. Since raw silk accounts for over 80% of the value of silk cloth, all silk cloth prices are
determined by the price of raw silk. The data of Baosan Wu and Yusun Wang (1947) suggest
that the net value of silk accounted for 40 % of the gross value in 1933, and this ratio is
assumed to hold all the way back to the Northern Song dynasty.
For the Ming dynasty, the silk cloth industry can be divided into two subsectors, the statemanaged sector and the private sector. The silk cloth industry managed by the state contained
two parts: central and local. Silk cloth output from the central government was produced
mainly in Suzhou, Songjiang, Zhenjiang, Hangzhou, Jiaxing and Huzhou, and recorded in the
official historical literature. Total output was about 11,000 pieces, accounting for one third of
the silk cloth industry managed by the government. It is difficult to find data on the privately
managed silk fabric industry, which must be estimated using government-provided data on
the number of looms and silk cloth production. According to Xinwei Peng (1965), the price
of raw silk can be determined for most years of the Ming dynasty. Based on Baosan Wu and
Yusun Wang (1947), the net value of silk fabric was 40% of the gross value.
For the Qing dynasty, the silk fabric industry can also be divided into two parts, the statemanaged sector and the private sector. The output data for both sectors are taken from Jinmin
Fan and Wen Jin (1993). The net value of silk fabric was also 40% of the gross value.
A2.3.3 Cotton cloth
After the Yuan dynasty, hemp fabric was replaced by cotton cloth as the wearing of cotton
textiles spread to the lower classes. Cotton textiles thus became an important handicraft
sector in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Output is estimated from data on the amount of labour
engaged in cotton production, work time per labourer and labour productivity or consumption
per person (Fuming Li 2005; Xinwu Xu, 1992).
A2.3.4 Coinage
Coinage was regulated during the Northern Song dynasty. The official unit and metal content
of coinage was Qian Mo, which was also strictly regulated by the government. From the
beginning of the Song dynasty to the reign of the Shenzong Emperor, the government used
the same standard to mint copper coins. According to historical information, the GDP of the
43

coinage industry amounted to 40% of the value of the coinage in the earlier stage, and 30% in
the later stage (Xiaochu Ji, Vol. 17; Wenxian Tongkao Qianbi Kao).
The Ming government minted a small number of copper coins and did not mint silver coins at
all. It is hard to find data for the exact amount. Hence, the coinage industry in the Ming
dynasty can be assumed to be negligible. The same is true for the Qing dynasty.
A2.3.5 Paper
During the Northern Song dynasty, Yuan Feng Jiu Yu Zhi; Xu Zi Zhi Tong Jian Chang Pian;
and Song Huiyao Jigao Shihuo recorded the amount of paper transported from different
regions to the central government. These data can be aggregated to estimate paper output for
the country as a whole (Huaxian Wei, 2006). Based on Minsheng Chengs (2008) research,
the net value of paper production was 55% of the gross value.
The paper industry in the Ming dynasty was well developed, with a high degree of variety,
flourishing mostly in four provinces, Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejia and Anhui. Since we lack time
series output data for paper during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the most neutral way of
allowing for the paper industry is to assume that its share of manufacturing output did not
change from the share estimated by Zhongli-Zhang (1987) for the 1880s. This is equivalent to
the standard procedure in economic history of constructing an index of industrial production
from a weighted sample of industries.
A2.3.6 Porcelain
Porcelain output during the Northern Song dynasty is estimated on the basis of Jilang Su
(1997), who calculated the profits and costs of porcelain production in the south east region
from the numbers of kilns in South Fujian and Guangdong provinces, the numbers of firings
by each kiln in every year, and the numbers of porcelain products in each kiln per firing. We
assume that South Fujian and Guangdong provinces accounted for two-thirds of national
output, broadly in line with the share of the south eastern porcelain industry during the Ming
and Qing dynasties.
For the Ming dynasty, porcelain production is estimated separately for the government and
private sectors and then added together to derive total porcelain production (Miaotai Liang,
1991). The data for the government-managed porcelain industry are for imperial kilns, while
the data for the privately-managed porcelain industry are based on the number of private kilns
and the average production per kiln. Since there are different types of porcelain, the average
price has to be used (Sakuma Shigeo, 1999). According to Jiangxi sheng da zhi, taoshu, the
cost of production is 40% of gross output, which suggests that the net value of porcelain
production accounted for around 60% of the gross value of porcelain production.
For the Qing dynasty, the output of Jingdezhen can also be obtained from Miaotai Liang
(1991) covering the period from the Yongzheng Emperor to the Guangxi Emperor.
According to Zhongli Zhang (1987), the south eastern porcelain industry centred on
Jingdezhen accounted for 70% of Chinese porcelain output. The ratio of net value to gross
value in Qing China is assumed to be the same as during the Ming dynasty.
A2.3.7 Transport equipment
Based on Zhongli Zhangs (1987) classification, the building and repairing of ships,
handcarts and oxcarts is categorized under transport equipment within the manufacturing
sector. The building and repairing of ships is the most important part of this industry,
44

although there are less data on this in the historical materials of the Northern Song. The 3.9%
share of transport equipment in manufacturing in the 1880s from Zhongli Zhang (1987) is
assumed to be constant throughout the Northern Song, Ming and Qing dynasties.
A2.3.8 Other manufacturing industries
There are a number of other manufacturing industries for which no systematic production
data are available, including fur products, metal ware, furniture, clothing, stationery and
jewellery. For these industries, the same method is used as for the transport equipment
industry. The 8.0% share of other manufacturing to total manufacturing output in the 1880s
from Zhongli Zhang (1987) is assumed to hold throughout the Northern Song, Ming and
Qing dynasties.
A2.3.9 Building
Building is assumed to grow in line with population, but with an allowance for urbanization.
This follows the procedure of Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen
(2011) in the estimation of English economic growth, 1270-1700. The population and
urbanization data are taken from Jianxong Ge and Songdi Wu (2005) for the Northern Song
dynasty and from Paul K. C. Liu and Kuo-shu Hwang (1979) and Shuji Cao (2005) for the
Ming and Qing dynasties.
A3 SERVICE SECTOR OUTPUTS
A3.1 Commerce
The output of the commercial sector is estimated indirectly from data on the value of
agricultural and industrial output, together with information on the share of output marketed.
By taking account of the urbanisation rate of different dynasties, and using grain output
minus food consumption, seeds, and feedstuff, Hui Wu (1987) has derived the
commercialisation rate of agriculture as 17% during the Northern Song, 16% during the
Ming, and 17.2% during the Qing dynasty before 1840, rising to 20.7% during the later Qing
after 1840. It is assumed that all industrial output was marketed. This series of marketed
agricultural and industrial output is used to project back from 1840 the nominal value added
in commerce, which is derived using Zhongli Zhangs (1987) estimate of the ratio of GDP in
commerce to GDP in agriculture and industry for the 1880s.
A3.2 Finance
In the early stage of the Qing dynasty (pre- 1840), finance includes three subsectors: pawn
shops, Qianzhuang (local banks), and Piaohao (inter-regional banks established by Shanxi
businessmen). The GDP of the financial sector consists of the personal revenue of the
professionals working in these subsectors plus the profits accruing to the capital employed.
Data on the numbers of pawn shops and the capital employed can be combined with data on
interest rates to calculate the GDP generated by pawn shops during the Qing dynasty (Qiugen
Liu, 1995). Although historical data are unavailable for Qianzhuang and Piaohao, Zhongli
Zhang (1987) has estimated GDP for China in the 1880s in Qianzhuang and Piaohao as well
as pawn shops. The ratio of the GDP of Qianzhuang and Piaohao to the GDP of pawn shops
is assumed to be the same as during the 1880s throughout the Qing dynasty. Combining the
GDP of pawn shops in the early stages of the Qing dynasty with this ratio, it is possible to
derive the GDP of the whole financial sector. For the Northern Song and Ming dynasties, no
financial data are available, so the ratio of financial sector GDP to total GDP during the Qing
dynasty is assumed to hold during the other two dynasties. This assumes that during the

45

Northern Song and Ming dynasties, usurious loans were on a similar scale to transactions
dealt with by Qianzhuang and Piaohao during the Qing dynasty (Wenshu Wang, 2008).
A3.3 Housing and domestic service
Following Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2011), it is assumed that
housing and domestic service grew in line with population, with an allowance for
urbanisation. The total population is decomposed into rural and urban population according
to the urbanisation rate and divided by the average family size to determine the number of
households. The number of households is then multiplied by the average rent in rural and
urban areas respectively, to determine the total housing rent. The urbanization data are taken
from Songdi Wu (2005) for the Northern Song dynasty and from Shuji Cao (2005) for the
Ming and Qing dynasties. Rent data come from Minsheng Cheng (2008) for the Northern
Song dynasty and from Xing Fang (1996) and Huanchun Hong (1988) for the Qing dynasty.
No independent rent data are available for the Ming dynasty, but are assumed to be the same
as during the Qing dynasty.
A3.4 Government
Government can be separated into four parts: the maintenance of the palace of the dynasty;
soldiers and military officers pay; officials emoluments and pensions; and the salary of
other office clerks. Data for all these parts of government can be obtained from the historical
literature of each dynasty. This method can be applied to all three dynasties. The number of
soldiers and civil servants and their pay are taken from Hongqi Li (1988) and Shengduo
Wang (1995) for the Northern Song dynasty. For the Ming dynasty, data for all parts of
government can be obtained from Ming Shilu and Wanli Kuaiji Lu. For the Qing dynasty,
data are taken from Feng Chen (2008) and Zhihong Shi and Yi Xu (2008).

46

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